ABTS Faculty Update: Dr. Abed El Kareem Zien El Dien
May 12, 2020
Distance Learning at a Time of Social Distancing
April 15, 2020

No Mountain High Enough:
Pursuing Theological Education in Unlikely Circumstances

May 8, 2020

In 2008, our student, Awad Guda from South Sudan, accepted Christ as his personal Savior. Through his testimony, Awad shared with us the following. “After graduating from high school, I began working as a taxi driver on my moped while I continued my education. I had become interested in a female passenger I had met during the job, but when we met outside of work, she started telling me about Christ and quoted John 3:16. I accepted Christ on that day. The first time I saw believers worshipping God, I thought they were crazy. I said to myself “I am never setting foot in this place again”, but I kept on coming back.” Over the years, Awad grew and matured in his faith. He joined his church’s young adults service, and when his studies took him to Uganda, he began to disciple the youths there from what he had learned so far. He got a Diploma in Theology during his stay in Uganda, but he had a heart to learn more and become more effective in serving the Lord.

In 2017, Awad came to ABTS as a Bachelor of Theology student. Awad tells us of his time at seminary and how it changed him. “When I first came to ABTS, I found it difficult to be serious about academics, and so I struggled a lot. I struggled so much that I thought I wouldn’t make it to the end of the year but making it to my 3rd year studying theology is a testament to how much the Lord has changed me. I’ve grown to know how to give different aspects of my theological formation their due. I’ve grown to know my friends intimately, and I learned through my interactions with them how I should be treating others.”

When students at ABTS were requested to go back home due to COVID-19, Awad was one of the few who made it back to their home countries before travel bans were put in place. After arriving in South Sudan, Awad traveled for a week to make it back to his residence in the state of Aweil in Northwestern South Sudan. He would communicate with us whenever he could, but because neither he nor his family have an internet connection, he would often go a full week without checking in. Still, when we transitioned to Online teaching on April 8, through the Lord’s providence, Awad found a way to connect with us, receive his learning material, join in forums, and upload his homework. Before the pandemic caused the closure of public areas in South Sudan, Awad would travel 1 hour from his home to a cybercafe where he could work on his online material before taking a further hour’s ride back home. This would cost him $2 for transportation and $1 for the internet services. The average wage of a semi-skilled laborer in South Sudan amounts to around $6 a day [1], and while being at home, Awad is also expected to help provide for his family. Now that the pandemic has shut down his cybercafe, Awad has moved to a city that hosts a UN hospital and has asked for permission to use their internet services to continue pursuing his studies online.

We thank the Lord for sending us dedicated leaders like Awad. We are also reminded that comfort and accessibility does not ensure serious students, but those who listen to and obey His calling sometimes have to pay a great cost. We pray that He continues to allow us to equip and train such leaders to serve His Church in challenging circumstances.
[1] CCCM, International Organization for Migration, "South Sudan, Daily Labor Wage Rate (August 2019)," August 2019. [Online]. Available: https://reliefweb.int/report/south-sudan/south-sudan-daily-labor-wage-rate-august-2019. [Accessed 07 May 2020].